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Guto Nyth Brân

Griffith Morgan (1700–1737), who was known better by his Welsh name, Guto Nyth Brân (Nyth Brân (English: Crow's Nest) being the name of his parents' farm near Porth, and Guto being a diminutive of Griffith) was an athlete.

Guto was born in Llwyncelyn, a small village found today in the community of Porth. It was said that his talent first came to prominence as he was helping his father herd sheep, when he managed to chase and catch a wild hare. Once locals heard of this there were new rumours every day of him catching hares, foxes and birds. One such legend has him running from his home to the local town of Pontypridd and back, a total distance of some 7 miles (11 km), before his mother's kettle had boiled. Another tale is that he could blow out a candle and be in bed before the light faded. Seeing his talent a local shopkeeper, Siân o'r Siop (Siân from the Shop), decided to become his trainer and manager.

The very first race organised by Siân o'r Siop saw Guto taking on an unbeaten English Captain over a distance of 4 miles on Hirwaun Common. Guto won easily and collected the £400 prize money, the first of many prizes he and Siân would win. Guto and Siân fell in love. As Guto kept winning his races it became difficult for him to find willing opponents to race against. He and Siân decided to retire to a quiet life before Guto turned 30. But years later a new runner had come to the fore: his name was Prince and he was affectionately known as the "Prince of Bedwas". Siân convinced Guto to come out of retirement in 1737 for one race with the prize being 1000 guineas. This is equivalent to £150,000 in 2014.

The race was over 12 miles between Newport and Bedwas. Guto's effort looked in vain as Prince took an early lead, but a devastating uphill sprint from Guto saw him surge past Prince near the end and beat his challenger, taking the prize and the honour of being named the fastest man of his time. But the race took a fatal toll on Guto: it is reputed that during the post-race celebrations he collapsed and died in his lover's arms after an over vigorous congratulatory back-slap.

His body was laid to rest at St Gwynno Church in the Llanwynno forestry. A large gravestone was erected in 1866, over 100 years after his death.